2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK350

Ah, spring is in the air and for many our thoughts are turned towards taking some weekend (or even weeklong) getaways as we welcome back warmer weather, high pollen counts (and fuel prices) and top-down driving.

Quite often Mother Nature and the schedulers of my press fleet vehicles do not coordinate their efforts but nonetheless convertibles arrive in my driveway and beckon to take the scenic route. For those looking to cheat “convertible season” a bit I offer you the Mercedes-Benz SLK roadster.

The 2012 model year is the third-generation of the cute little hard-top convertible that I affectionately refer to as a “chick’s car.” Sure, Mercedes makes a “manly” AMG version with plenty of horsepower but for the most part I feel they have really hit the mark with this latest model for the female driver. First and foremost has to be the unique Neck scarf feature that extends the driving season by delivering soothing, warm air to the nape of the neck as if one were wrapped in their (read: her) favorite scarf.

To help maintain the “do,” Mercedes offers the AIRGUIDE wind deflector that mounts to the back of the rollbars to really reduce air buffeting during top down driving.

Mercedes-Benz reinvented the retractable hardtop roof for modern times when it launched the first SLK and now that roof has gone completely high-tech with the new Magic Sky Control feature, the optional panorama roof panel of the overhead section is made dimmable by the occupants in a manner similar to that of automatic dimming rearview mirrors. A chemical film is sandwiched between two layers of glass and an electrical current is applied it allows light to pass through. When switched off the panel is tinted and reduces light.

Our tester was the SLK350 model which boasts the automaker’s latest direct-injected 3.5-liter V-6 engine generating 302 horses and 273 lb. ft. of torque. Behind the new engine is a new seven-speed automatic gearbox with a more advanced torque converter said to provide better fuel economy and increased durability and uses a new type of low-viscosity ATF fluid that is blue in color instead of the usual red.

The new SLK also comes with a unique Attention Assist system that through a steering movement sensor monitors driver’s erratic steering corrections as would occur when the drive is drowsy and via digital display suggests the driver takes a rest.

This third-gen SLK features all-new exterior styling and is the most aggressive to date for the model line with inspiration drawn from its SLS sibling.

Spring is in the air so even if Mother Nature has not warmed things up for you the new 2012 SLK from Mercedes-Benz can.

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